Get Better Sleep – HTH 024
back to another episode of the How To Home podcast. My name is Aaron Massey,
and I’m joined as always by Tracy Pendergast. Today on the show we are talking
about figuring out how to get the best sleep environment. We’ve got a guest
calling in, Philip Shen from Sleep Choices, who’s going to give us some knowledge
on sleep science.
I know both of us need. With young kids, you want to get as much sleep as
possible, and sometimes it’s not possible and you want to make sure that the
little sleep you are getting is good sleep. I’m excited to talk to him about
getting some more knowledge about what makes good sleep, how to figure out what
the best mattress is, and all that.
guest today is Philip Shen. Thank you for being here, Philip, we appreciate it.
you. It’s my pleasure.
us a little bit of your background. How did you get involved in the sleep
world, and what your experience is.
have been in this arena for over 30 years. It started with a factory in Florida
who was involved in making quilting machines, those feed long with 300
different needles going up and down, computerized and so forth, to China. I was
a agent for that company, which later got bought out by Leggett & Platt,
the Fortune 500 company. I was actively involved in opening up new markets and
involved in machinery, involved in technology, involved in selling engineered
components and so forth. I’ve been involved in various facets of this business.
you consider yourself a sleep engineer, or what? How would you describe
of jack of all trades. I was involved in machinery, I was involved in selling
licenses, technology, and also I brought the company to China market when …
let’s say 2008, we were running 12 factories in China. I got to do a lot of
international travels, and with five million air miles to my credit, so I slept
on many, many hotel beds. I have a personal taste of what the hotel beds are
like, how bad it could get, and what to do if you have a bad one, for instance.
and I both have young children and we value our sleep very much when we do get
it, so we’re excited to have you here to talk about how to get better sleep,
what we can do, what we should be doing to establish our ideal sleep
environment. Before we dive too deep in, I just want to take a quick second and
thank our founding sponsor of the show, which is FilterBuy. FilterBuy
manufactures over 600 different sizes of HVAC filters. You can set them to be
delivered to your door so you never have to remember to change them. They show
up whenever you need them, and you can save 5% when you subscribe. Thank you to
FilterBuy for making this show possible.
breathing also leads to healthy sleep, right?
sure that plays a big part of getting valuable sleep. You’ve got to be able to
breathe. We want to encourage you guys to follow us on social media at
howtohome_guide. Get involved in the show, and check out our website,
howtohome.com, and sign up for our email list so you never miss out on any new
we’ve got a bunch of questions lined up for you. First of all, we want to talk
about why is sleep important to your health? Obviously everybody wants to get
better sleep, it’s just an issue of how. How do we get better sleep, and what
do we do?
Sleep is really one of the most important facets of life, since we spend
one-third of our lives in sleep. Therefore the environment of sleep is
critical. Both the physical and the biological and the environmental conditions
are important. We want to make sure the room is cool and quiet and all of the
conditions are right, because during the sleep, the body restores itself,
recharges itself, and repairs itself, and also a lot of memory sorting out, the
day’s memory, the day’s activities, some will become permanent memory, some
will be discarded, for instance, and so forth. Sleep is critical, and it’s very
much important to have enough sleep. Without enough sleep, like WebMD says, you
might develop catastrophic diseases such as stroke, diabetes, and so forth.
man, I’m going down. It’s countdown over here. I feel like there are so many
products on the market to ensure that your children have great sleep. My kids
have the sound machine, they have the diffuser, they have the blackout shades.
But I don’t think a lot of attention gets spent on adults having good sleep.
What types of products do you think adults should have in their room to create
that healthy environment?
think for youngsters, the mattress requirement is actually not as much as the
adults, because Millennials or young people can sleep anywhere on anything.
Important is cool. I think kids typically sleep hot. You don’t want to give
them a mattress that makes them sweat during the evening. They need to be
medium or firmer, because typically the softer mattress will cause your spine
to misalign away from the normal curvature of the body. A medium to a medium
firm mattress, a mattress that doesn’t accumulate heat, and better ventilation,
and also a mattress that probably should have a mattress protector for cleaning
and keeping it fresh all the time.
yeah, you only make that mistake once with kids, not having that mattress
much of sleep revolves around the mattress, compared to the environment that
the mattress is in? How much does it … do you pay special attention to having
a specific type of mattress, or you want to create an ideal environment that
you’re sleeping in?
think both are important. The mattress itself, and then the environment. Also,
not just the physical environment, but the physiological environment also is
critical. Firstly, it’s statistically known that 80% of the sleeping population
are side sleepers. The side sleeper’s really the most demanding because of the
curvature of the body is most severe. The shoulder sticks out, the hip sticks
out. Those two points are the pressure points that you can see behind my wall,
that if you measure the pressure coming back from a mattress, the shoulder and
the hips are the points that are most pressure sensitive. As they become sore
throughout the evening, one will unconsciously turn from left shoulder to right
shoulder and so forth. Consequently, you sleep less, you sleep shallower and
not as deep. That is sort of the answer to one of your earlier questions is,
how do I sleep better? The solution is really, how do you sleep deeper, with
less time or same number of hours. But if you sleep sounder, deeper.
all know that there is different stages of sleep. The best part of the sleep,
the most important are the last stage of the sleep. Unless you sleep through,
let’s say typically over four hours, you are not getting into the deep sleep,
the REM sleep aspect of the rest. It’s important, therefore, to have less
turning because of the sore shoulders, less turning because of the heat of the
mattress, less turning because your back is sore, because the bed, let’s say
it’s too soft. Even if you have the perfect firmness for a mattress, you still
have pressure points. This is why the new consideration now in the online
memory foam type of mattress is the zoning of the mattresses. The mattress are
designed with softer areas at the shoulder and the hip. The shoulder and the
hip can sink in the mattress a little more and still support the weight area of
the top the body and the rest of the body.
do you suggest when you and your spouse, when you have different sleep needs?
I’m a side sleeper. My husband sleeps flat on his back. He likes super firm, I
like a softer bed. Where do you suggest couples meet in the middle?
a difficult question to answer because I think it depends on who is the boss of
told him separate rooms but he’s not going for it.
definition typically is, whoever is the side sleeper should make the decision,
because the side sleeper is the most critical or most demanding in terms of a
need to tell my husband it’s a critical situation .
curvature of the back is not so extreme as compared to the side of the body. If
the mattress is good for the side sleeper, it should be good for the back and
the front sleeper.
a side sleeper, I’m also a side sleeper, am I just trying to measure what’s
comfortable for me? Is that all I’m trying to take into account?
we’re looking at two major criteria of a mattress. One is comfort. The comfort
basically is on the top layers of the mattress for the muscles. The support is
for the body weight. The support is usually in the bottom part, even in the
foam mattress you have different layers. Different layers with different
densities so the body sinks down slowly. Your shoulder and the hips will be the
first point of contact. You don’t want to have too firm of a mattress to cause
a sore shoulder, the sore hips, so that you keep turning at night and not sleep
the second layer will be the support layer that’s dependent on the weight of
the person. You don’t want to bottom out if it’s not designed correctly. You
need to have a combination of both. Typically, a regular mattress simply have
layers of foam or spring or whatnot, but people don’t realize that even if you
have the perfect firmness, you still have the pressure point at the shoulder
and the hip. The zoning concept is really an advance step to correct the
pressure and enable deeper, sounder sleep.
brands are offering this zoning technology right now?
are different kinds of springs, different shapes, different designs, and
different firmness and so forth. The more common and most well liked is the
pocket coil. Those are the individual wrapped coils that’s in the pocket so
that the spring to spring contact would not be noisy, let’s say, because they
are going to be, as you move in the bed they may be rubbing against each other.
There’s independent movement, and there’s no transfer of, do-not-disturb type
of scenario. The hybrid is half pocket on the bottom, typically, and half
memory foam or other types of foam on the top. So then we have comfort for the
muscles and support for the body.
mentioned spinal alignment. How does that come into play when you talk about
this? You’re talking about, you’re sleeping on your side and your body is kind
of out of whack, and then on your back … is it more aligned when you’re
sleeping on your back? What’s the better spinal alignment?
for a moment, if you’re sleeping on the table you’re leaning against, on a hard
table, what would happen? The shoulder and the hip will be getting all the
pressure and your waist will be away from the bed. After a while, the back will
kind of curve down, which is abnormal to the normal configuration of the
alignment when a person is standing up. When a person is standing up, that’s
the perfect alignment. But when you are in the bed, if the bed is too hard, the
spine will curve because of the pressure at the hip and the shoulder pushes it
up, and then if it’s too soft, it will cave in so that the whole spine is caved
in, conforming to the mattress curvature. To be too firm is no good, too soft
is no good either.
if it’s perfect firmness, you still would gain more effective sleep by having a
shoulder that’s slightly softer and a hip that’s slightly softer. How do we do
that? Different people are different heights, for instance, so how do you have
a mattress that can fit everybody? The trick here is the zone at the shoulder is
fixed, because it’s usually right below the pillow. That’s where the shoulder
goes. The hip is centered in the bed. People may have longer legs, but the
waist area, the hip area, is usually in the center of the bed. The center zone
is slightly wider so that your hips sink down and your shoulder sinks down so
your spine is still straight.
now the trend seems to be the bed in the box. Where do those mattresses-
packaging, this packing technology, has been around for only about four or five
years. This is when the online mattress space began. In the old days, you have
a factory that, let’s say, restricted to a 300 mile driving or shipping radius,
beyond which the cost of shipping is prohibited. Therefore, you have, let’s
say, a legacy brand, they will have 12, maybe a dozen factories throughout the
country. Each will have a selling zone for each of the local licensees, let’s
say. No more. Since they applied the shrink wrap, pressure wrap, vacuum packed
technology, and then they fold it, roll it, and put it in a box, and therefore
there’s no restriction to the distance anymore. A factory can service anywhere
that’s feasible, not by air, but at least by truck and so forth, at a very
reasonable rate. It’s convenient, and also the fact that people like to shop
online more and more every day, it’s easy shopping. It’s free home trial, you
don’t have to go to a store and look at 20, 30 mattresses under the glare of
the sales people and have to decide in five or 10 minutes which is the bed
you’re going to sleep for eight years, every night. You get to get it home, try
it, if you don’t like it you can return it. That’s the beauty of online
is the mattress good? Do you think, even though it’s really convenient, do you
think the mattresses tend to be healthy and comfortable?
I think we have different definitions of what’s comfortable for different
people, it’s really to satisfy the comfort and the support. Those are the two
key points. Another key point that is part of the comfort is the rebound. When
you have a mattress that’s too firm, your pressure points takes a lot of abuse.
When it’s too soft, your body sinks in like quicksand, also not good. The
rebound has to be just right so you cover as much of the body as possible
without having difficult to turn at night. In the old days, in the beginning of
memory foam mattress, one of the complaint has been it sleeps hot. You sink
into the mattress and you cannot turn without waking up first at night. This
has been corrected now by changing the top layer so there’s more rebound.
There’s enough rebound to make it easy for you to turn.
my wife and I purchased our last bed a couple years ago, we bought a King size
bed, mostly because I really like to have my space around me when I’m sleeping.
I sleep hot, and I don’t like people in my space. We did this thing where it
was like, it was called bed match technology or something where you lay on a
system at the store and it kind of measures you in different ways and then
recommends a mattress. Is that just a gimmick, or is that legit?
pressure mapping demonstration, which is what I was talking about a moment ago,
is a way to show the pressure at different parts of the body is subjected to
when you lay down on the mattress. I think they’re trying to show that that
particular mattress that you’re testing, it does not give you red spots so
therefore it’s more comfortable for you. What it may not show is the spinal
alignment is correct, because if it’s very comfortable, it can be hammocking
also and you can have a sore back in the morning. That’s only partially
are the tips for somebody who wants to go buy a new mattress? How do they know
they’re picking the right one? When they lay on it, should the salesman or
somebody, should they be telling them their spinal alignment? How do you know?
That’s the biggest question, I guess. How do you know it’s the right mattress?
difficult. I think it depends on your body weight. It depends on your habits,
sleep preference, whether you want it softer or firmer. The spinal alignment is
probably best done if you wear a long john with dots in the back so that you
know what the straight line looks like. Once in the bed it’s kind of hard to
tell. If you’re looking at a product that’s designed with zones, then you know
that they have alignment in consideration. That’s part of the design.
Otherwise, most of the mattresses on the market today, they are just layers of
products, layers of foam, but no zone differentiation. The zones is really the
next step to a better sleep.
specifically important, like you’re saying, to a side sleeper, maybe more so
than a back sleeper, or those crazy people that sleep on their stomachs.
80% of people sleep on their sides in the U.S. Secondly, I think when you talk
about earlier, you like to sleep cool, you don’t like hot, the newer foam
mattresses usually have a knit fabric cover. As opposed to the old days,
they’re damask and so forth, they don’t breathe as well, so the ventilation is
not as good. Some mattresses also design woven with a heat conducting yarn in
the fabric, so that it feels cool. Now the pillows also have cool sleeping
pillows so it conducts the heat quicker and therefore feel cooler.
gel products, the gel is like a phase change product. It’s like the difference
between water in the vapor form versus in the solid form, ice, and the regular
liquid form. There’s a phase change so that the same thing with the gel. It’s
really is a phase that will absorb heat and keep your body cool. That kind of
science behind it.
talk about mattress maintenance for a minute. Is there a way to clean your
mattress or to maintain it?
Many of the products on the market have a zipper top so you can take the cover
off and launder it.
can also use a mattress protector, which can be removed and washed as well. It
would be good to wash it a few times throughout the year, and also rotate the
mattress head to foot a couple times a year at least.
long should your average mattress last?
in the industry they’re recommending eight years. In the hotel business, five
years because of the frequency of use and maybe abuse.
used to flip the mattress, right? You used to turn it over.
the old days. Yeah, in the old days it used to be flipped. The thing is, to be
able to flip it, that means you have to have both sides covering the comfort
level. You have to also cover the support level, and so with the memory foam it
just becomes impractical to have a flip over type of design, because the foam
is too soft. It’ll kind of wobble on the bed platform. Also, the memory foam is
quite a bit more expensive, so they put the cost of the mattress to the top
portion rather than the bottom, which is essentially for support only.
does the pillow come into play in this scenario? Is is all about getting that
proper spinal alignment from that perspective as well?
pillow really has quite a lot to do with the sleep that you’re going to have.
This pillow is related heavily on the type of mattress you have. Just imagine,
if your bed is very firm, your pillow tends to be firm. If the mattress is
soft, the pillow will be soft. If you use criss-cross, it will not be
comfortable. Also if you have broad shoulders, then you need a thicker pillow.
Some people prefer a softer pillow versus a firmer pillow, and a side sleeper
requires a thicker pillow because of the distance between the head and the bed
is different as you would on the back, when you sleep on your back.
trick is, how do you change the pillow as you turn? Sometimes you sleep on your
back, sometimes you sleep on your side. That is tricky area that really,
there’s no perfect solution out there on the market yet. Other than having two
pillows, you move them around.
pretty much what I do. I have one that’s a little more firm and one that’s a
little more soft and I just kind of …
have a wedge that I put between my knees-
do that, too.
it straightens my back. My hips are like I’m a 90 year old. The hip wedge
really has helped me sleep better when I am asleep.
typically use a body pillow. Because I’m a side sleeper, same thing. I don’t
like the whole knees making contact kind of thing. It just feels more natural,
it feels more comfortable.
advice I can give you is have a body pillow. I have a body pillow. I sleep with
three pillows, believe it or not. I have a body pillow, I have a back sleeping
pillow, and a side sleeping pillow. I kind of automatically, when I turn, I
move, I change the pillows around. An interesting observation, in Europe, the
hotels have a square pillow. A pillow that’s not so thick, and then they will
fold it, double it up. You can fold the pillow and therefore have a higher
pillow when you’re side sleeping, and you can unfold it when you’re back
sleeping. It kind of accomplishes both dimensions.
wonder, why don’t they do that here?
don’t they do a lot of things here?
try the body pillow. This is the advice that are given to have a soft piece of
pillow or foam between your knees. Otherwise, your top thigh is bending down at
an angle. It’s not good for the spinal alignment over many hours of sleep. If
you have a body pillow, you put part of the pillow in between your knees so it
will keep your legs straight.
that makes total sense. Is there such a thing as getting too much sleep? I’m
not saying that I’m getting too much sleep, but I’m just asking if there is.
When I was a teenager, it was like all I wanted to do. I’d sleep for 12, 14
hours a day.
like 11:00 am.
don’t know, I am not a research scientist, but I think that the amount of sleep
typically relates to the amount of activities, amount of recovery, amount of
restoration your body requires. I think you’ll naturally wake up if you have
favorite line that people always say when they come over and spend time with my
kids is, “Wow, they’re going to sleep well tonight.” I’m like, no, this
is every day, and they sleep the same every day. I think little kids keep going
and going. But yeah, teenagers tend to just … man, it’s amazing.
was zoned out. I would just sleep for endless-
I wish I could do that now, sometimes.
this morning I was like, can I just sleep for 12 hours? That’d be great. I
would just love that.
the science behind good sleep? You want to get that REM sleep, that REM sleep,
for a certain amount of time, or is it just you want to make sure you’re
getting that at some point during the night?
deeper part is the REM sleep. A lot of times interruptions, let’s say noise or
heat or uncomfortable bed that makes you turn, then you don’t get to REM sleep
and it keeps starting from step one. Then it tries to go to step four. You can
be spending all night between step one and three and don’t get into step four,
the REM sleep, and your sleep is not as deep and not as restorative.
there any specific products on the market that you really like or recommend
Snooze mattress is designed with the zones to relieve the pressure in the hips
and the shoulders. That is a product that’s going to give you at least as much,
maybe more sleep in the same period of time as a mattress without the zones.
That’s the add on. Now the newer versions now that’s coming out in the market
is the hybrid bed which is the memory foam for the comfort, for the muscles,
and the pocket coil on the bottom for the support of the body. That’s a product
we’re bringing on next month, it’s called the Hybrid Bed, and it has best of
masks and ear plugs, is that just a personal preference, as far as how you like
to sleep? Is there any benefits to anything like that?
of my extensive travel, in the old days especially, I have a blackout curtain
in my bedroom, and I find that light will disrupt your sleep. Also I have no TV
in the bedroom. I have no electronic in the bedroom, and I have no closet in my
bedroom. No toilet in my bedroom. It’s outside the master bedroom. I may be on
a different time zone when I get home and I don’t want my wife to be going to
the bathroom or going to take a shower and getting in and out of the room, so
that when you go to the bedroom, you sleep. That is one key thing that you can
consider is that you keep your room cool, quiet, and color, comfortable colors.
Maybe I have a massage chair out there, I usually go for 15 minute massage
before I go to bed, or take a hot bath or hot shower before going to bed.
can I stay at your house?
like he’s got a spa.
my massage on, have a nice blacked out sleep.
got a spa in his master bedroom.
think the problem today is the lack of time. We’re all on a heavy schedule, so
we try to cut out as much sleep as we can so we have to sleep as quickly as we
mentioned briefly about the electronics, I think that’s a big thing nowadays,
certainly. People are on their phone all the time or their iPads or they’re
using their e-readers or whatever before bed. A lot of people like to read, but
now even reading has become electronic. I know there’s the color shifting screens
and things like that that are supposed to be less harsh on the eyes. Is it just
kind of general science background knowledge to not use that stuff before bed?
think the glasses, too. There’s the red canceling glasses, or blue light
blue light, yeah. Which are supposed to, I don’t know. I don’t know if any of
that stuff is legitimate or if it’s just product gimmicks.
think it’s definitely legitimate. I think charging your phone and all of your
stuff out of your room and getting an actual clock is probably smart. I look at
my phone for the time all night, and then once I look at my phone for the time,
then you’re on your phone.
started turning my alarm clock around to face the other way, because I find that
I’ll wake up at night, use the restroom or do whatever, and I look at the
clock, and if it’s like-
start doing inventory of your time.
like how much time I have left to sleep, and then I think I screw my head up by
doing that. I kind of just turned it away so I don’t even know what time it is.
there anything else like that, things to cut out of your bedtime routine? In
that final hour of the night.
I mentioned, I like to sometimes sit in my massage chair for 15 minutes so I’m
kind of comfortable and sleepy and relaxed before going to bed. I think that
sometimes drinking hot liquid like chamomile tea or even hot water. The Asians,
especially the older generation, they like to drink hot water. Try it sometime,
really relaxing your intestinal system and that’s also good to have liquid
before going to bed. We usually don’t drink enough liquid throughout the day.
I give my kids a little warm milk it’s the same thing. They’re like out.
got a couple social media questions in. Some of our audience has sent over a
few questions and just want to jump into a couple of those if you don’t mind.
This one comes in, it says, “If you have a cooling element in your
mattress and you put a protector over the mattress, does that negate some of
the cooling ability?”
Except there is cooling mattress protector on the market as well. Secondly,
with the zipper topped mattress cover that’s available, you can actually unzip
and wash the cover without using a mattress protector as well. It’s a personal
a mattress protector, you’re already defeating some of the characteristics of a
nice knit fabric that breathes well because you’ve got one more layer of cover
for the air to move in and out of. I personally prefer just to take the cover
off and wash it from time to time.
you had three tips for the average person to get better sleep, what would you
a big question. Firstly, I know that a lot of people are procrastinating in
buying a new bed. Some people we talk to, quite a few, they say, “I
haven’t bought a new bed for 20 years.” Long, long time. An old bed is
really part of the big problem. The right size, kind of bed, right design of
bed, is also important. People tend to think that a firm bed is better than a
soft bed. Only to a certain extent. A firm bed is only good up to a point where
it starts to make you turn at night because your sore shoulder and hips, and
whether you have a spine issue in the morning. A medium firm, ideally zone
mattress will be ideal.
thank you very much for sharing some knowledge with us about getting better
sleep. I’m going to go take a nap. We want to make sure that you guys follow us
on social media as well at howtohome_guide, and get involved in the show at
hotohome.com. Sign up for our email list or send us a message. We take a lot of
your suggestions to create show topics. This one was a viewer suggestion.
was, and we also ask our guests all of your questions that you send in.
can people find some more information from you or the products that you guys
can look up a website at sleepchoices.com, or snooze.com, and they can find us,
Facebook on Sleep Choices. Sleep Choices as well on other social networks.
types of information might they find at Sleep Choices?
think that we have put a lot of effort into the design of the product, on the
sleep technology, sleep science, that is worth reading. We also spend a lot of
effort on the blogs, trying to convey some of the sleep sciences and the reason
behind the various designs of our products. If they’re interested, they should
look up the sleep choices and look up the blogs and also the sleep technology
you guys have some great articles. I read through a couple on Sleep Choices.
They have really nice articles.
you very much, Philip, we really appreciate your time.
you so much.
you very much, good talking to you both.
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This week Aaron and Tracy chat with Philip Shen about tips for creating a great sleep environment in your home.
You can always call and leave your questions and comments on our voicemail!
WHY SLEEP IS IMPORTANT:
- We spend ⅓ of our lives sleeping, so it’s critical for health.
- The body restores and repairs itself during sleep.
- Good sleep also supports your memory.
HOW TO CREATE A BETTER ENVIRONMENT:
- Make sure your room is cool and quiet.
- Get the proper mattress for your alignment.
- Block out noise and light.
- No tv or electronics in the bedroom.
- The bedroom should be for sleep.
- Comfortable and soothing colors.
- Hot showers, massage and warm beverages/hot water (non-caffeinated) are great before bed.
- Tracy suggested blue light cancelling glasses.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A MATTRESS/PILLOW:
- For youngsters, the mattress requirements aren’t as important- but it’s important they’re cool.
- Philip recommends mattress protectors for health.
- 80 percent of the sleeping population are side sleepers, and side sleeping creates the most pressure points. It’s important for side sleepers to get the correct firmness.
- Philip recommends mattresses with zoning technology.
- Mattresses should last 8 years.
- If you have broad shoulders you need a bigger pillow.
- Body pillows are great for support.
- Philip likes the Snuz mattress, specifically the hybrid bed.
Q: If you have a cooling mattress and put a mattress protector over it, are you negating the benefits?
A: Yes, but they make cooling mattress protectors as well. Also, with the zipper top mattress protector that’s available, you can actually unzip and clean without buying a mattress protector.
Website | www.sleepchoices.com
The Gram | @sleepchoices
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